For a seriously good old-school steak, seafood and cocktail experience in a beautiful art deco space, Hawksmoor Air Street, just off Regent Street, is a great London dining option. One of six Hawksmoor restaurants, the Air Street location aims to not only offer London’s best steak, but the city’s best seafood as well. The beef is carefully sourced, high quality and well-butchered and the seafood, supervised by British seafood ambassador and restauranteur Mitch Tonks, is on the same foodie level. Mostly cooked over simple charcoal, both the seafood and the steaks are allowed to showcase their natural flavors and are joined by a great range of both classic and innovative side dishes and starters.
The restaurant’s name comes from its Spitalfields origins, the first Hawksmoor location was opened in that now-trendy area back in 2006. Christ Church is a Spitalfields landmark (built in the early 18th century), its architect was Nicholas Hawksmoor, thus the name. The restaurant group now has five locations throughout London and one in Manchester too. Tucked onto tiny Air Street, between Piccadilly and Regent Street, Hawksmoor Air Street is also a great pre- or post-theater option and is quite close to the West End. A special express two- or three-course menu (with many delicious options) is offered to ensure you don’t miss your show.
The restaurant is a part of the very cool, very foodie Regent Street area, just adjacent to the Regent Street Food Quarter. This epicenter of great dining and drinking in the heart of London is packed with some of the city’s best restaurants and bars (along with great shopping).
This may be the ultimate guy’s steakhouse with a huge bar, stylish art deco design, comfortable leather booths, dark lighting and brick walls. The feel is luxurious and comfortable, whether you’re there with a group of friends or out for a romantic evening. Service is attentive and professionally casual, with young, knowledgeable servers whose recommendations should be respected. The street entrance leads to a ornate art deco marble staircase with polished brass rails, setting the tone for what one finds upstairs.
Dinner started off with a very delicious Doddington Caesar salad, which was wonderfully prepared and foretold of the gastronomic party we would be experiencing. Prepared with full leaves of lettuce, the flavor was intense, with finely grated Parmesan mixing in with the dressing. Next were the roast scallops, prepared with white wine and garlic and served in their blackened shells. The scallops were so fresh and just perfectly cooked. For one main, we went for the Turbot, done in what they call a “Hawksmoor Cut.” The fish is so tender and delicious, grilled over charcoal, gently seasoned and served with a lemon half.
For my steak, I went with the 300 gram filet mignon. Other options included Chateaubriand as well as porterhouse, t-bone, bone-in prime rib, sirloin, rib-eye and rump cuts. The rump steak is aged for 55 days. The steaks can be joined with maple bacon, two fried eggs, grilled bone marrow or half a Dartmouth lobster if desired. Available sauces are Bearnaise, peppercorn, bone marrow gravy, anchovy hollandaise or a Stilton hollandaise.
To join the steak, I went for the creamed spinach (so rich, creamy and delicious) and the triple-cooked chips. These are the ultimate chunky French fries, cooked three times for a crisp exterior and soft interior. Other side dish highlights include beef dripping fries and the lobster mac and cheese. The Bermondsey sourdough bread was also amazing.
The drink selection is deep and the bartenders are quite skilled here, leading to a lively bar scene. The bar, which you walk through to get to the dining room, showcases the beautiful art deco design and makes you feel like you’re part of a P.G. Wodehouse play.
Hawksmoor Air Street succeeds in its stated goal, to offer London’s best steaks and London’s best seafood. I found the service excellent, the room beautiful, the drinks strong and the wine and beer lists impressive. Although certainly not cheap, the prices are reasonable for the central London location and the overall dining experience.
Slow eaters should note, the restaurant imposes / recommends / requests a time limit for diners, two hours for tables of two, two and a half hours for tables of three or four and three and a half hours for tables of five or more. As one of London’s most popular restaurants, in the heart of the shopping, nightlife and theater area of the city, the guideline is understandable.
Hawksmoor Air Street
5A Air Street W1J 0AD
Follow luxury travel writer Freddy Sherman on Twitter @luxuryfred and on his luxuryfred.com blog